Of all the reptiles to ever exist, snakes are some of the most diverse and fascinating. Some of the most popular venomous snakes are mambas, some of the fastest-moving snakes in the world.
There are over 3,000 snake species scattered around the planet, except in places like Antarctica, Iceland, and New Zealand.
Snakes are further classified as venomous or non-venomous, with around 600 species being venomous and about 200 of these having the ability to kill or seriously harm a human with a bite.
Mambas can be found in several African countries, and their preferred habitat depends on the species in question.
There are four extant mamba species scattered around Africa.
This portion of the article will shed more light on these species and highlight their primary differences.
4. Black Mamba
Dendroaspis polylepis, famous as the black mamba, is the most popular mamba species.
This species is widespread and found in most areas of sub-Saharan Africa, and like other mamba species, it is venomous.
The scientific name of the black mamba, Dendroaspis polylepis, is derived from Ancient Greek words.
Dendroaspis is derived from two words, dendron and aspis, their combination meaning “tree asp.”
The second part of the scientific name, polylepis, is also derived from Ancient Greek words; poly, meaning “many,” and lepis meaning “scale.”
Together, Dendroaspis polylepis means the “many-scaled tree asp.”
Generally, black mambas are long and slender and have coffin-shaped heads.
Black mambas are the longest snakes in Africa and the second-longest venomous snakes after King Cobras.
The average length of these snakes is between 7-10 feet, with the longest black mamba on record reaching over 14 feet.
As mentioned, these snakes are slender and usually weigh between 3.5 and 5.3 pounds.
Despite being called black mambas, the colors of these snakes vary between different variations of gray, brown, olive, etc.
The primary reason for these snakes’ name is the inside of their mouths, which ranges between dark gray and completely black.
Black mambas are also proteroglyphous, meaning their fangs are in front.
As mentioned, the black mamba occupies a wide range in many sub-Saharan African countries, but some believe that these snakes are also found in some parts of West Arica, although it is still inconclusive.
Black mambas prefer to inhabit light woodlands, lowland forests, savannas, etc.
The black mamba typically hunts from a permanent lair, and most of its prey are small vertebrates like birds and small mammals like rodents, and bats.
3. Eastern Green Mamba
As its name implies, the eastern green mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps) is a mamba species found in several parts of East Africa.
Despite being venomous, this snake’s venom is not as dangerous as other mamba species.
The good news is that because these snakes are shy and rarely on the ground, the chances of getting bitten by one are very slim.
Unlike the black mamba, the green mamba’s name is a perfect fit because of its bright green color.
However, these snakes are not born green; the young ones are bluish-green and do not take on the color of adults until they are almost three feet long.
Female eastern green mambas are longer than males, averaging nearly seven feet, while males are almost six feet.
The eastern green mamba is a cautious and elusive animal rarely spotted.
Its elusiveness is attributed to its arboreal habitat and green color, which acts as camouflage in its natural habitat.
The southern and eastern coasts of Africa are where the eastern green mamba can be found.
Because they are primarily arboreal, this elusive species is frequently well-camouflaged by vegetation.
The eastern green mamba likes rather deep, well-shaded foliage instead of open terrain, unlike the black mamba.
Along with habitats in wild forests, it inhabits farm trees such as cashew, citrus, mango, and thickets.
It is known to invade homes in parts of coastal East Africa, seeking refuge in buildings with thatched roofs.
2. Western Green Mamba
The second type of green mamba is the western green mamba (Dendroaspis viridis), found in several parts of West Africa.
The latter part of the scientific name, viridis, means green in Latin, perfectly describing the snake.
The snake was first described by Edward Hallowell, an American herpetologist, in 1844 after one of the first specimens was found in Liberia.
Although some people believe that the western green mamba is not very violent, others have said it is quite nervous and is likely to attack when cornered.
Although the western green mamba is relatively small, it is slightly bigger than the eastern green mamba.
The average length of an adult is between 4.6-7 feet, with some reaching up to eight feet.
On its back, the western green mamba has bright green scales that progressively turn yellow near its tail.
Its abdomen is covered in yellow scales, and its pattern is made even more noticeable by the black edges on each of its green scales.
This snake can blend quite well with its environment in the trees thanks to its color and slender structure, much like the eastern green mamba.
As its name implies, the western green mamba is native to various West African countries.
These snakes live primarily in tropical rainforests and other woodland areas in the West African region.
These snakes are often seen on the ground while hunting, foraging for water, or looking for mates, even though they spend most of their time in the trees.
They are also more active during the day, and their primary prey include small mammals, rodents, birds, and squirrels.
1. Jameson’s Mamba
Equatorial Africa is home to the highly venomous mamba species, Jameson’s mamba (Dendroaspis jamesoni).
Named after Robert Jameson, this species is the least-known mamba species and was first described by Thomas Traill, a Scottish zoologist, and doctor.
Of all mamba species, Jameson’s mamba is the only one with subspecies; the nominate subspecies (Dendroaspis jamesoni jamesoni) from sub-Saharan Africa’s central and western regions and the eastern black-tailed subspecies (Dendroaspis jamesoni kaimosae) primarily from western Kenya.
Jameson’s mambas are long, slender snakes with smooth scales and a tail that often makes up 20 to 25% of their length.
A Jameson’s mamba’s whole body length, including the tail, ranges from almost five feet to over seven feet in adults but can reach lengths of about nine feet.
Adults typically have scales with a black border that are dull green on the back and fade to pale green underneath, while the underparts, neck, and throat are often cream or yellowish.
Most of these mamba species’ habitats are in Central and West Africa, as well as some regions of East Africa.
Jameson’s mambas are found in higher elevations than other mamba species; they prefer to inhabit woodlands, rainforests, and savannas at elevations of over 7,000 feet.
The Jameson’s mamba is a highly arboreal snake, substantially more so than the black mamba and the eastern and western green mamba.